The Masjid Raya Baiturrahman is a place that you must visit when you visit Banda Aceh. This mosque is not only known as an important religious place in Aceh but also a historical site that has existed since the glorious era of the Aceh Sultanate and has survived to this day.
What makes the this mosque has to be visited is because the mosque has witnessed through various historical events, from the tragedy of burning by the Dutch colonialists in 1873 to how this building survived during tsunami that hit at the end of 2004.
History of Baiturrahman Grand Mosque Aceh
There are two different versions of history regarding the history of the origin of this mosque. Some sources say this mosque was founded in 1292 AD by Sultan Alauddin Johan Mahmudsyah. Meanwhile, other sources say this mosque was founded by Sultan Iskandar Muda in 1612 AD.
During history, Masjid Raya Baiturrahman Aceh was burned to the ground by the Dutch during the attack on Koetaradja (Banda Aceh) on April 10, 1873. The collapse of the mosque building triggered the movement of Acehnese resistance.
They fought to defend the mosque to the last blood. In that battle, the Dutch lost one of their commanders, Major General Johan Harmen Rudolf Köhler on April 14, 1873. The mosque was then rebuilt by the Dutch on the orders of General Van Der Heijden.
The Rebuilding of Baiturrahman Grand Mosque
The rebuilding of Masjid Raya Baiturrahman is part of an effort to reduce the resistance of the local people to the Dutch occupation. The process of rebuilding the building took place in 1879-1881 AD.
The mosque, which is located in the center of Banda Aceh City, has since undergone several expansions. The first occurred in 1936. On the efforts of Governor General A. PH. Van Aken, carried out the construction of two domes on the right and left sides of the mosque.
Furthermore, in 1958-1965, the mosque building was expanded again. In this second expansion, two domes and two minarets were added on the west side (mihrab). These five domes are symbols of the five elements in Pancasila.
In 1992, construction was carried out with the addition of two domes and five towers. In addition, the mosque’s courtyard was expanded so that the total area of the mosque is currently 16,070 square meters.
Survived During Tsunami Tragedy in 2004
On December 26, 2004, a tsunami wave as high as 21 meters hit the coast of Banda Aceh. Miraculously, the mosque was among the buildings that survived – although there was damage to several parts of the mosque.
Post-tsunami renovation efforts cost IDR 20 billion. The funds came from international aid, including the Saudi Charity Campaign. The renovation process was completed on January 15, 2008.
The Unique Design
According to the IPLBI page, the Baiturrahman Aceh Grand Mosque has similarities to the Taj Mahal in India. With the large minaret and dome, the design of this mosque is indeed in the Mughal architectural style However, it is also combined with various other elements, including the indigenous culture of Aceh.
Now, Masjid Raya Baiturrahman becomes the center for the development of Islamic activities for the people of Banda Aceh. That’s why you have to visit this place during your visit to Aceh, to witness how the building stands in front of many historical events in Indonesia.